Keep them and care for them, they are getting more valuable by the day. Many fine old pieces come through our shops each week. We also see an assortment of 'heirlooms' that may not be of the finest quality, but have the most important characteristic, they belonged to the family. Occasionally a piece will come in that was simply a bargain at a garage sale or auction.
We would be happy to consult with you about your 'treasure', heirloom, or antique. When you bring an antique in, or we come out to inspect it, we can help you with the approximate age, style and rough idea of current value. However, we are not authorized appraisers and would highly recommend having your finer items appraised for insurance purposes. Please ask for a referral of whom to call in your area. Many insurance policies have limits of insurance on individual items; check your policy! We recommend videotaping your household contents every year, and keeping the tape in a safe place. This provides proof of ownership. A good appraiser can use your videotape to appraise your furnishings in case of a loss.
We are often asked about the difference between restoring an antique, and refinishing. The difference is simple. Restoration involves working with the original finish to bring out the beauty of the piece. This normally involves a process called French-padding. Refinishing involves removing the old finish and replacing it with new. What isn't so simple is knowing which to do for each piece. Sometimes it takes just plain common sense. Other times it takes years of experience. The wrong decision can cost thousands of dollars in depreciation. If you are moving an antique piece from a climate that has a high humidity level to an area with a low humidity level, there are some precautions you may want to take. Wax the finished exterior, interior, drawers, and shelves with a non-abrasive wax. Shellac or varnish the interior unfinished areas, including the outer back and bottom. Be careful not to get anything on the original finish. This will prevent the item from loosing its moisture rapidly, and help keep it from cracking or splitting during shipment.
As soon as it reaches its destination, humidify the room the piece is in, and gradually decrease the humidity level. Keep all antiques out of direct sunlight, so as not to heat them unevenly. Many old shellac finishes darken with age and turn black, hiding the beauty of the wood beneath. Some pieces have been poorly cared for in previous generations, and some have suffered trauma of some kind.
At Ackerman's, we will help you determine the best course of action for each individual item. Pieces may require specialized repair or restoration depending on the problem, the wood, and the condition of the piece. We will be happy to give you an honest opinion of what would be the best for each item. Please call the shop and speak with one of our gentlemen. We may be able to give you some advice on the phone, and would happily set up an appointment to come to your home for further assistance. You can reach us at (303)798-3220.